Karapatan asserts rights-based agenda in 2022 elex

Ahead of International Human Rights Day, various groups led by Karapatan gave their final verdict on the Duterte administration’s atrocious human rights record in a press conference today, as they asserted that a rights-based agenda should be at the forefront of the campaigns in the national elections next year, especially with the alliance of despotic political dynasties and human rights violators led and represented by the Marcoses, Arroyos, and Dutertes.

“After six years of Duterte’s atrocious and brutal rule of State terror and repression, pressing calls for accountability and defending people’s rights should be at the forefront of any candidate’s campaign in the 2022 elections. This is much more urgent now that the consolidation of the despotic Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte alliance is in the offing — promising the continuity of the murderous and anti-people policies and programs of the Duterte administration,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

The tandem of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte, Palabay continued, “has only become clearer after Senator Bong Go announced his withdrawal. What is also clearer now is the tandem’s end goal: a Marcos restoration to whitewash their family’s atrocities in their return to power, and a Duterte extension to ensure that Duterte is shielded from accountability” such as the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into his crimes against humanity.

On top of the thousands killed and arrested in the Duterte administration’s sham and bloody drug war, Karapatan has documented, as of November 2021, 424 victims of extrajudicial killings, among them 216 human rights defenders, in the course of the government’s counterinsurgency campaigns, as well as 19 enforced disappearances, 226 cases of torture, 2,807 cases of illegal arrests without detention, and 1,159 cases of illegal arrest and detention.

Judicial harassment in the form of trumped-up charges, raids, and the planting of evidence has also led to the arrests and detention of 489 political prisoners under the Duterte administration alone, out of a total of 712 political prisoners in various jails throughout the country. Ninety-nine (99) of them are afflicted with debilitating and life-threatening illnesses, while 64 of them are already advanced in age. At least 133 of the political prisoners in the country are women.

The punitive and militarist implementation of quarantine measures has also fomented grave human rights violations, such as the recent case of 20-year-old Abelardo Vasquez, who was shot dead by police officer in Bacoor, Pampanga last November 20 simply for not wearing a face mask. The Karapatan official averred that such killings are “no isolated incidents” when “Duterte himself has repeatedly explicitly given his kill, kill, kill orders — including in his last State of the National Address.”

“To this, we lay down our five-point ‘K Ba ‘Yan sa Balota?’ human rights agenda for the upcoming 2022 elections, with policy suggestions and demand centering on Katarungan (Justice), Kapayapaan (Peace), Kalayaan (Freedom), Katotohanan (Truth), and, of course, Karapatan (Rights). We hope that candidates will take up and commit to these platforms, and that it would be comprehensive guide for voters to make the right vote by voting for our human rights,” she stated.

Among the key demands include holding Duterte accountable before the ICC and other international and domestic platforms, combatting Marcosian historical distortions, putting an end to the killings and the campaigns that enable them such as the drug war, the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the release of all political prisoners, and the resumption of the peacetalks with the National Democratic Front.

Panelists from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Rise Up for Rights and for Life, Pilgrims for Peace, and the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law joined the press conference.

“We cannot let the same six years of Duterte’s de facto martial law continue, especially under a Marcos. The coming months will be an arduous fight as we face a massive political machinery led by the alliance of the country’s most despotic political families and most notorious human rights violators — but it is in our collective action and solidarity in a shared hope for a future where every Filipino’s rights and dignity are protected and respected that we can resist and end fascism and tyranny,” Palabay ended.